Today is the first day of Kwanzaa, which is a holiday celebrating African American heritage, unity and culture. Beginning in 1966, this holiday has been celebrated annually from December 26th through January 1st. The number 7 plays a significant role in this holiday, as there are 7 days of the celebration, 7 principles, 7 symbols, and even 7 candles to light. For a brief synopsis of what this holiday is all about, read on:
The 7 Principles of Kwanzaa
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
2. Kujichagulia – Self-Determination
To speak for yourself and make choices that benefit the community.
3. Ujima – Collective Work and Responsibility
To help others within the community.
4. Ujamaa – Cooperative Economics
To support businesses that care about the community.
5. Nia – Purpose
To set goals that benefit the community.
6. Kuumba – Creativity
To make the community better and more beautiful.
7. Imani – Faith
To believe that a better world can be created for communities now and in the future.
The 7 Symbols of Kwanzaa
Crops are symbolic of the African harvest celebrations and of the rewards of productive collective labor. This is why eating fruits, nuts and vegetables during this holiday is popular.
2. Mkeka – The Mat
The symbols of Kwanzaa are all arranged on this mat, which may be made of straw or African cloth. It symbolizes the foundation on which the communities are built.
3. Kinara – The Candle Holder
This candleholder holds seven candles (there’s that number again!) and is said to symbolize the stalks of corn that branch off to form new stalks, much like a human family is created.
4. Muhindi – The Corn
Another popular holiday food, corn is symbolic in this holiday of the children, and the future which they embody. Traditionally, an ear of corn is placed on the mat for each child present.
5. Mishumaa Saba – The Seven Candles
A different candle is lit each day. They are also symbolic of the 7 Principles (see above) which African people are urged to live by in order to rescue and reconstruct their lives in their own image and according to their own needs.
6. Kikombe cha Umoja – The Unity Cup
The cup is symbolic of the foundational principle and practice of unity, which makes everything else possible. People celebrating the holiday drink from the cup in order to honor their African ancestors. Before drinking from the cup, each person says “harambee,” meaning “let’s pull together.”
7. Zawadi – The Gifts
Gifts are symbolic of the labor and love of the parents, and the commitments made and kept by the children. Traditionally, an educational or cultural gift is given to the children on the last day of Kwanzaa.
ChefUniforms.com would like to wish a very happy Kwanzaa to all of our friends, family and customers who celebrate the holiday.